Wednesday 19 December 2018

Brexit could lead to border

Olivia Ryan

The ongoing battle over Brexit has seen the Irish border emerging as a major stumbling block to any deal between the European Union and Britain.

The EU's draft legal text published last week included what Taoiseach Leo Varadkar called a 'backstop' where in the event of no deal being reached, Northern Ireland remain within the customs union in order to avoid a 'hard border'.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the draft text 'faithfully reflected the commitments made by the EU and UK in December'.

He said that: 'The backstop is the only way to guarantee that the joint commitments will be upheld in all circumstances.'

But the response from British Prime Minister, who rejected the draft text, has further heightened concerns that a hard border could emerge.

Louth TD Gerry Adams gave 'a cautious welcome' to the EU's draft legal text 'which would, if implemented, go a considerable way toward protecting border communities.'

'The British Prime Minister's rejection of the EU legal text published has sent the Brexit process back into crisis,' said Deputy Adams. 'This, along with the strident comments of the DUP and the anti-Good Friday Agreement remarks of leading Brexiteers, means that the Brexit negotiation process has again degenerated into a shambles.'

He warned: 'The potential for a hard border has now been given added momentum by the repeated failure of the British government to spell out its objectives and goals for the Brexit negotiation. The remaining EU 27 states still do not know, only eight months away from the deadline for the end of the negotiations, what new relationship the British government is looking for with the EU.

'In the absence of an overarching agreement between the EU and the British government, the draft legal text accepts that the alignment option means that the North shall be 'considered part of the customs territory of the EU'. It confirms that the North would remain within the customs union and acknowledges the need for many of the elements that go to make up the single market.'

The Argus